A rancher is forced to make a tough decision that leaves a bitter taste in his mouth.
Neal Brackett is my top hand. A foreman like no other. He has an easy way about him as long as you stay on his good side. Cross him and you’d swear the devil himself was coming down on you. I depend on him to handle all the necessary requirements needed to run the Bar D.
Our usual Friday meeting was about to begin, and as usual, Neal entered my office from the outside door. What was unusual about his entrance is that he blew in like a cold wind before a winter storm. He didn’t sit down. Just stood at my desk like a man with something on his mind.
I had a good idea as to what, or should I say who it was about. I had hired a man named Tex several months earlier. A hard worker and smart to boot. Born in a saddle with a rope in his hand. I was damn happy to have hired him.
To my dismay, he turned out to be somewhat of a braggart and a loudmouth who constantly felt the need to be the center of attention. That didn’t set well with me and I figured it would cause trouble between the men at some point. I expected I’d hear about it soon enough. Seems the time had come.
I was at my liquor cabinet when Neal stormed in. “Drink?” I asked.
“No thanks, boss.”
“You know I don’t smoke.” he politely replied.
“I know. Thought I’d ask, just in case you’ve changed your ways.”
“Not a chance in hell.”
“Thought not, I haven’t changed my ways either.”
I slowly poured a full glass of bourbon and took my time lighting a good cigar. I motioned for Neal to take a seat as I took mine. I savored a long draw and filled the small room with a haze of sweet smoke. I proceeded to knock off the ash by slowly rolling the cigar tip on my desk top. It was an old habit I had yet to break. I took a sip of bourbon and set the glass aside.
Neal sat patiently as I savored the moment.
I decided to open the conversation with what I suspected would be the topic. “How’s Tex working out?”
“We have a problem with Tex,” replied Neal. “His personality has become…how can I put this…incompatible, with me and the men.”
“Is that so. Tex is a top hand. Are you sure this is a Tex issue?”
“Without a doubt, and with all due respect, it’s been decided, if Tex doesn’t go soon, the men and I will.”
“Sounds like an ultimatum. You’re putting me in a hard spot I don’t rightly appreciate.”
I took a minute to consider all my options.
“Send Tex in. We’ll settle up.”
“One more thing,” I continued. “If you ever pull a stunt like this on me again, I’ll be settling up with you.”
© Copyright 2018 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.